Summer Triangle 2009

Last Update: 9/24/2009


Link to Prolog                        What took you so long

Link to August 18, 2009       Getting ready to leave

Link to August 19, 2009       Leaving Saint Clair MI to Port Sanilac

Link to August 20, 2009       Port Sanilac to Port Austin

Link to August 21, 2009       Port Austin to Harrisville

Link to August 22, 2009       Harrisville to Presque Isle

Link to August 23, 2009       Presque Isle to Cheboygan

Link to August 24, 2009       Cheboygan to Mackinaw City Municipal Harbor

Link to August 25, 2009       Docked in Mackinaw

Link to August 26, 2009       Mackinaw to Leland

Link to August 27, 2009       Leland to Manistee

Link to August 28, 2009       Manistee to White Like

Link to August 29, 2009       Cleanup in White Lake

Link to September 3, 2009    Info about the weir

Link to September 5, 2009    Marilyn and I visit summer Triangle on Saturday

Link to September 6, 2009    Marilyn and I visit summer Triangle on Sunday        

Link to September 9, 2009    Travel to the boat

Link to September 10, 2009 Repairs and grocery shopping

Link to September 11, 2009 White Lake to Ludington     

Link to September 12, 2009 Ludington to Frankfort MI

Link to September 13, 2009 Frankfort to Leland MI

Link to September 14, 2009 Leland to Charlevoix MI

Link to September 15, 2009 Charlevoix to Mackinaw MI

Link to September 16, 2009 Stay in Mackinaw

Link to September 17, 2009 Mackinaw to Presque Isle

Link to September 18, 2009 Presque Isle to Presque Isle – Darn I hate it when that happens

Link to September 19, 2009 Presque Isle to Harrisville

Link to September 20, 2009 Harrisville to Port Austin

Link to September 21, 2009 Port Austin weather layover

Link to September 22, 2009 Port Austin to Harbor Beach

Link to September 23, 2009 Harbor Beach to Rivers Bend (St. Clair MI)

Link to September 24, 2009 Home





Summer Triangle spent the winter of 2007 in covered storage and I was going to do “a little work” on her before putting her back into the water in 2008. When she came out of the shed, I had them put her on the hard where I had ready electrical access for running power tools. In spite of frequent visits (about 90 minutes each way) I didn’t make much progress other than learning a lot of ways not to varnish. I did give the old dingy to Nick and bought, but didn’t inflate (or mount) a new one from West Marine. About the only thing that got varnished was the “Hat Band”, a strip of teak around the fly bridge, and I didn’t do a great job on that. Meanwhile the handrails and cap rails really went to pot in the summer sun. Oh, and I had a lot of the canvas resewn, new zippers etc.


During the winter of 2008-2009 I lost 50 pounds which improved my ability to get around on the boat a lot. I still need to lose another 50 but I’m working on it.


In 2009 I attacked with renewed vigor. Ed Smith of Riversbend Marina installed a Vetus 60 Kilogram bow thruster. Steve Ream wired it in with my technical assistance. We used “00” welding cable from the two 8D start batteries because the round trip distance was about 70 feet counting all the twists and turns. The prewired Vetus cable to the flybridge connector had to be disassembled to get it thru the wire chase. A bow thruster is a thing of beauty if you remember to turn on the power switch.


Also, with my able technical assistance, Steve installed two 8 circuit switch panels, one on the flybridge where the old Loran was and one in a sloped front console hanging from the main salon overhead. What a difference from the old wiring system which had been modified over the years with fuses scattered everywhere. Now virtually everything 12 volts has its own fused switch.


Also, we removed the old autopilot and replaced it with a Com-Nav 1420 and took out all the old Raytheon chartplotter and radar. No More Chips. I put in a small industrial PC (from Small PC of Burlington Ontario, Canada) running Windows XP Pro. To that I added Jeppeson Nobeltec MaxPro chartploting software and a Nobeltec 2KW radar. The PC has dual video outputs and I configured them to give me identical screens at each helm. I am using 17” LCD flat panels. I originally scored a great deal on two 19” screens but they were too, too big. You couldn’t see around the lower helm screen.


 I had some false starts on the GPS before putting in a Quatech 4 serial port to USB expander. I was able to hook up a Furuno GPS thru the Quatech and got rid of the driver conflicts that had been shutting the computer down. I still have to hook the new AIS and the new heading sensor into the Quatech, and I plan to hook in the upper helm depth sounder which has an NMEA output.


The old lettering on the side near the stern that identified the boat as an Albin 36 was in bad shape from years of polishing, and mostly illegible on the port side, so I finished removing the existing and got some new lettering from Boat US. Darn that looks good!


Also, I got the dingy inflated and purchased some close out Weaver Davits from Boaters World as they were going out of business. I picked up a 6 foot dock box, also seriously discounted, and put it on the flybridge to hold extra fenders and lines. So the dingy is on the swim platform hiding the beautiful transom artwork. Nobody knows my name. I ordered two sets of lettering from Boat US with one line each “Summer Triangle” and “Birmingham MI”. Originally I thought I would put one set on the front of the flybridge and one set on the dingy bottom but maybe I’ll stick them on either side of the flybridge. We will see what fits.



Tuesday August 18, 2009 After a lot of work we are loading the boat with a hoped for Wednesday morning departure. I don’t quite believe it. Lots of stuff to fill you in about. But, I’m busy packing and I have to make a last minute run to pick up a new “Smart” GPS antenna. This really is a test to make sure I can still do updates from the laptop. More to follow…..


Tuesday night after a long wait for the “Smart” GPS antenna Marilyn and I picked up Steve on the way to the boat. The Trailblazer was loaded. After we unloaded the trailblazer about 10:00 PM Marilyn made a grocery run while Steve and I put stuff away. We didn’t get to bed until after midnight with the alarm set for 6:00 AM. I think that is the way things will go for a while.


Wednesday August 19, 2009 The blasted alarm went off in my stateroom. Marilyn was sleeping in the salon so I requested her to turn on the coffee while I woke up. Marilyn drove the Trailblazer down to the bridge to take pictures of us leaving. We were hoping to get untied in time for the 7:00 AM bridge opening but didn’t get there until just before 7:30 AM. We called on the VHF but no answer. We tooted our horn, but no answer. Finally we read the fine print on the sign that said the bridge would open between 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM on demand by prior arrangement. We tied to the seawall and Steve ran over to Tim Horton’s for breakfast sandwiches and coffee. We were ready for the 8:00 AM opening. We made it to Port Huron about 11:00 AM and went under the Blue Water Bridge making about 4 knots at 2000 RPM against a stiff current. The new prop is working. Lake Huron was quite calm so while Steve drove, I started to see if I could get any data from the new Foruno GPS. After lots of fooling around it started talking. The pin connections made no sense (pins 5 & 7 for RS-232 duh) but the data was good.


For the technically inclined, the Foruno data sheet said the output was RS-422 but the Quatech data concentrator didn’t get any data when set for RS-422. The Quatech data sheet promised jumper selectable terminating resistors inside the box but they were not there. I didn’t have a 100 ohm resistor in my pocket, hence the weird RS-232 connection.


After getting the GPS working on the laptop, we moved the clipped together rig to the “Navigation Computer”. Eureka, it worked sitting on the dash.


Arrived in Port Sanilac about 4:30 PM. We made good time with a little bit of breeze behind us. As they say, “fair winds and following seas”.


Thursday August 20, 2009 Alarm went off at 6:00 AM and we were gone by 7:00 AM. The engine did not quite sound right, like we did not have enough water flow. We pulled in at Harbor beach and tied up for about an hour while Steve cleaned the sea strainer (half full of weeds), then the hose to the sea strainer, then he took off the right angle fitting that fed the hose (full of weeds) and finally pushed the weeds in the seacock back into the lake. Finally we had good flow. After putting it all back together again we were off for Port Austin. Now the seas were getting worse with 6-8 feet. When we turned West at the tip of the thumb it slowed us from 6.5 to 4.5 knots with the same engine speed (1800 RPM). We got into Port Austin about 6:00 PM and after dinner at a local bar, made a more permanent connection of the GPS to the data concentrator. Between routing the power, rain squalls and computer “issues” it took a while. Ever try soldering D-Shell connectors in the dark on the flybridge after midnight? Worse yet, the air conditioner in the forward cabin kept tripping the circuit breaker. We did not have a meter to measure the current so we put it off and opened a hatch.



Friday August 21, 2009 Alarm went off at 7:00 and I got up to find Steve had already done the engine checks and bungeed everything down for a rough day. We started immediately. South winds were forecast for 20-25 knots veering to Southwest. Waves were forecast 4-7 feet. We figured if we crossed Saginaw Bay early we would have a lee shore to protect us. Silly us. The waves were at least 6-8 feet with occasional 10 footers. Some of the stuff on the flybridge moved around in spite of being tied down. Between the lack of sleep and the constant rolling with the waves, I did not feel good and laid in bed for a few hours while Steve drove. The last couple of hours, we were near enough to the shoreline north of Oscoda that the waves dropped to 4-6 feet and I swapped with Steve. We pulled into Harrisville at about 2:30 and glad of it. Boy, I hope to get to sleep earlier tonight. I’m going to see if I can catch a nap before dinner.


Good thing I didn’t nap. I was in the salon when a somehow familiar guy came marching down the dock waving his finger at me. I sure didn’t know what I had done wrong. Maybe I didn’t check in soon enough? No, it was a face from the past. Steve Baksis who used to do creative stuff like advertising brochures, was now living in Harrisville. He had seen and then lost Steve Ream walking in town so he decided to look on the dock and found me. We chatted for a bit and then he had to go back to his dog (not allowed on the dock). Anyway, we all got together and went to the bowling alley for the Friday night steak dinner special. It was good to see Steve again. Funny thing, Steve Baksis is helping a friend in Harrisville restore a Marine Trader so he had some questions about the Albin.


Saturday August 22, 2009 We left Harrisville about 7:15 to take advantage of the early calmer water and headed for Presque Isle Harbor or if the going went well, Rogers City. Pushing thru the oncoming waves slowed us to 4.5 to 5.5 knots so we called it a day at Presque Isle. It is a pretty harbor with a nice restaurant or across the street a Deli and Pizza place.



Sunday August 23, 2009 Boy, did I finally get a good night of sleep. We left Presque Ile about 7:45 headed for Cheboygan. On the way we were passed by the trawler Odessey also bound for Chebogan and later for the North Channel islands.


Monday August 24, 2009 We only had a short run so we didn’t get started until 8:20 AM. We arrived in Mackinaw at 11:20 just 3 hours later. Marilyn is on her way by car to spend the night and she picked up a new heading sensor at X-Com before leaving. We expect her here about 5 or 6 tonight. Steve and I finally had a nice day and some spare time to apply the boat name and hailing port to the front of the flybridge and to the bottom of the dingy. Also got some new fuel filter elements, a new engine room light and some misc. stuff at Sheplers Marine store. Steve and I figured out how to change the fuel filter, and Steve mounted the engine room light. Steve and I swapped air conditioner circuit breakers to see if we possibly had a bad breaker. After all the work I had done on that AC unit it sure didn’t seem fair, but the problem was with the AC unit, not the breaker. Oh, well, who needs AC at the Strait of Mackinaw?


When Marilyn got here, she dropped off the stuff and went to see an old friend’s new house. Steve and I replaced the heading sensor and tried to tune it. The book says after you turn the sensor 360 degrees the flashing lights should turn off. They did not. But, curiously enough, it seems the autopilot is working. Steve and I took Summer Triangle out for a short cruise and it seemed to hold the heading fairly well. Also, we could make minor course changes from the operator’s control.


After that, we went to dinner and when we came back put stuff away and went to bed.


Tuesday August 25, 2009 Marilyn and Steve packed up for the long trip back to Motown. I get to stay on the boat and do maintenance. So far, I primer painted the Samson post. We had stripped it when we stripped the rails but never got around to painting it. Oh, well, this is a start. Mike and Sue Joyce are due in tonight. Mike is going to shepherd me thru the Straits and down the Lake Michigan shore. I sure hope the weather is good. Today is kind of windy but the two days before were great. Mike only has about 5 days before he needs to get back to work. I hope we can get to White Lake by then and leave the boat for a short break at home.


Wednesday August 26, 2009 The autopilot is working in Pilot mode. I’m not sure about the Nav mode. It seems like the chartplotter is giving the autopilot heading information but the autopilot heading sensor is different by a few degrees and the cross track error keeps building up. Also, the AP heading sensor seems to be uncomfortable near the bow thruster. I’m going to think about that. We had a long (13 hour) day getting to Leland about 8:00 PM. It turns out there was no one there to assign a slip or take our money. We had dinner at “The Cove”. It was the closest place and my knees hurt. I sure am glad we didn’t have to hand steer that 13 hours.


Thursday August 27, 2009 Slept in until 7:00 AM. Engine start at 8:00 AM after slowly adding a quart of oil. How can a funnel act up? The barometer was 30.41. You couldn’t ask for a better day. Before leaving the dock we made one more check on the forward air conditioner and realized no water was coming out the side. I think we got weeds in the AC strainer, probably back at Port Sanilac. We cruised at 6 to 6.5 knots all day and expect to be tied up in Manistee about 7:00 PM tonight. We were tied by 6:30. Ate some brat’s and went to bed. Possible 12 hour run tomorrow but the fuel dock doesn’t open until 8:00 and diesel is only $2.49. Its hard to believe I haven’t bought fuel for nearly two years. I hope the vents aren’t clogged.


Friday August 28, 2009 The alarm went off at 7:00. Mike was already up and the coffee was perking. I reset the alarm for 7:30 and laid back down. Oops, the vents are clogged. I got 20 gallons into the starboard tank and 65 into the port tank. I’ve got to clean those vents. We were underway by 9:00 AM and docked in White Lake at Moxie Marina at 7:30 PM. I plan to leave Summer Triangle there while they figure out what’s going on in Chicago.


Saturday August 29, 2009 Marilyn and I came back to the boat to pick up stuff and clean up.


Thursday September 3, 2009 Here is a link to the latest Fish Barrier information. This should be updated periodically.


They claim the new weir has a voltage of 2 volts per foot. All the thru hull penetrations on Summer triangle are electrically bonded together. It is approximately 25 feet from the first thru hull to the transom zinc. If all that voltage was imposed on the bonding system, it would melt the conductors. Just one more reason to turn back.



Saturday September 5, 2009 Marilyn and I visit summer Triangle.

In the 1973 movie Magnum Force, Inspector Callahan said “A man's got to know his limitations”. Marilyn pointed out to me that in the rush to get under way we had never taken a “shakedown cruise” and I effect our rush to Chicago was our opportunity to find out if the new electronics is/was working or not. The GPS connection was tested in the cabin after two days of travel. The converter box is still not mounted in its permanent location and the AIS, depth sounder and heading sensor still haven been connected. In the rush to get going a lot of things were just good enough. Even such a simple thing as raising the stern light to clear the dingy had not been finished. Since the stern light was welded to one of the handrail stanchions, raising it was not practical, I purchased a new stern light, with replacement lamps as well as a ten foot piece of 1 inch stainless tubing. The folks at Newton Manufacturing crafted a thing of beauty with the new light SOLIDLY affixed to the ten foot pole, Steve Ream and I snaked the boat wire thru the pole to the light and cut the pole to the appropriate length with a pipe cutter. On Saturday I finally got it installed and tested. Now the stern light not only turns on, but because it is higher than the dingy, it can also be seen, Saturday night we left shortly after 7:00 PM to go  to Tony’s Bistro in Muskegon (recommended if you can drive) with Sue and Mike only to find out that Bob Keene had visited shortly after we left. Sorry Bob.



Sunday September 6, 2009 We got up quite early because I wanted to get some useful work done before John and Char Keegstra arrived to see the boat. Like Sue and Mike, we have known John and Char since before any of us were married, Now we all have grand kids, Funny how time flies when you are having fun, Anyway they drove up after church under threat of being handed a paintbrush if the got arrived before  2:00 PM. The good news is that I was able to add a bit of varnish to the hand rail and about half the cap rail before they arrived.


John helped me test my new invention. I had assembled a 1” hose barb with appropriate reducers to a compressed air quick connect fitting. Since the plumbing to the engine sea water strainer had gotten clogged when I pulled in, I removed the 1” hose from the  strainer with only a dribble of water coming out, After hooking up the compressed air at 70 PSI we blew a lot of bubbles out the starboard side and the water started to flow properly. HORRAY, one of my inventions worked,


After dinner onshore with John and Char, Marilyn and I packed up and headed to a free frequent sleeper hotel room in Grand Rapids. On Monday we took a leisurely ride back to Birmingham.


We hope to see Summer Triangle Wednesday September 9, 2009 with some minor repairs (like clear the fuel tank vents) on Thursday the 10th followed by an early departure (weather willing) September 11, 2009. We are likely to be a bit more careful about the weather so it may take 3 or more weeks to get back to St. Clair (and home). Marilyn has decided she will be the crew on the voyage back home. She is a bit apprehensive about the big water but I think she will like it. And she can take as many pictures as she wants. I got the phone number to call for a mechanic before we left for home.



Wednesday September 9, 2009       I called the number I had been given for a mechanic and it turned out to be at the marina next door. It seemed kind of funny but, stranger things have happened. I scheduled a mechanic for a couple hours of work on Thursday. Opps, turned out to be more like 6 hours. But, I digress. Shortly after scheduling the work with Crosswinds I got a call from Moxie Marine, wondering what was going on. It turns out the phone numbers are 1 digit apart.


Thursday September 10, 2009        Well, anyway we wound up getting our work done at Crosswinds and they did a fine job. One of the things that happened is we clogged the water line to the engine yet again getting out of Moxie so we kept the boat at Crosswinds for Thursday night. While I watched and learned from the mechanic, Marilyn took advantage of still having a car and went grocery shopping. The fuel tank vents are clean, the holding tank is pumped, the generator works and both air conditioners work and the cupboards are full. I had a new cable installed to parallel the house batteries so I should get longer life. We each went to bed about 9:00 PM to get an early start but neither of us got to sleep before midnight.


Friday September 11, 2009            My alarm went off at 6:00 AM. It took only a moment to turn it off and go back to sleep. About 8:00 both of us got up, each made coffee (decaf for me and regular for Marilyn), took showers and had engine start at 9:30 AM. We were actually under way by 10:00 and out on Lake Michigan before 11:00 AM. Not an early start for the long trip from White Lake to Manistee. According to the computer we would get there about 8:30 PM and by our guess we would be tying up in the dark. So we pulled in at Ludington a little after 5:00 PM and walked over to PM Steamers, a nice local restaurant. Looks like we will aim for Frankfort, Leland and then Mackinaw and take four days to travel the distance Mike and I did in three. But, we will have less stress.


Saturday September 12, 2009         I went to sleep a little after 9:00 PM and didn’t wake up until Marilyn started making her coffee at 8:00 the next morning. I did my usual engine checks (before I even had coffee). The engine oil level was good; the sea strainer flowed like crazy and only had one weed in it. But, I noticed the engine coolant tank was empty. Not even Crosswinds is perfect. When they worked on the engine stop solenoid they detached a support for the coolant tank hose and forgot to reattach it. The hose rubbed on a pulley and got a hole in it letting the coolant drain from the tank. Fortunately the hole was not far from the engine end of the hose so I cut off the defective portion and re-routed and reattached it. Bill had left me a gallon of coolant which was still in the engine room so I was able to re-fill the coolant tank and close up the engine room. Then about 10:00 AM we left the slip and went to the fuel dock. The clean fuel vents are wonderful. I took on 100 gallons of diesel which brought the tanks up to 19 inches. That might be enough to get us home with our fingers crossed. So, anyway we got out to Lake Michigan just before 11:00 AM and headed for Frankfort. Overnight the plan changed to Frankfort, Leland, Charlevoix and then Mackinaw. This gives us shorter days and I don’t lose so much sleep. During the trip north we turned on the autopilot and it was wandering and overcorrecting worse than ever. I took out two steps in the sensitivity setting and it now tracks better than ever at 1800 RPM (about 6 knots). We got into Frankfort at Jacobson’s Marine Resort a little after 6:30 and had dinner on the boat. Marilyn walked into town but everything except the restaurants were closed down. Looks like we can get into Leland (about 40 nautical miles) early Sunday for dinner at the Blue Bird Inn. We burned ½ inch of fuel so we ended the day at 18 ½ inches.


Sunday September 13, 2009 We got going after nice showers at about 9:30 and got into Lake Michigan about 10:00 AM. Things were pretty smooth for a bit until we got to Point Betsie. The waves were hitting us from the side and Marilyn found out why we sometimes run the boat from the lower helm. I pointed the boat into the waves and slowed way down while she climbed down to the lower helm. I zipped up the flybridge and climbed down while she drove the boat. Then we went off course a bit to get pictures of the Point Betsie light. From then on it was just a couple of waypoints to pass Sleeping Bear dunes and the Manitou islands and we arrived in Leland a little after 4:00 PM.


The docks are unattended (again) but some nice folks from a sailboat, “Brassy” out of Grand Rapids helped us tie up. Marilyn took a walk  around town while I read a book. We went to dinner at the Bluebird and Marilyn got her whitefish. After dinner we came back to the boat and she grabbed her camera to get some pictures of sunset over the Manitou islands.


Verizon has let us down. No connection at Leland. We will have to connect after we get out on the lake in the morning. Or more likely wait for Charlevoix.


Monday September 14, 2009          I did not sleep well. I went to bed about 9:00 and couldn’t get to sleep even though I was dog tired. I got up and read a couple of times and finally got to sleep around 2:00 in the morning. Needless to say Marilyn was up first and made her coffee then mine. With my coffe ready I had to get up. Marilyn took a walk around town and I did my engine checks. All was well. Brassy moved over to the gas dock and we got out ahead of them. Can you imagine us being ahead of sailors? We were in Lake Michigan by 10:00 AM and settled in for a long mostly straight run to Charlevoix. Brassy was behind us most of the way. We were showing an ETA of 3:30 at the river mouth and the bridge only opens on the hour and the half hour. We had figured on taking our time and coming upstream for the 4:00 opening but Brassy put on a burst of speed and passed us like they were going to make the 3:30 opening. So I goosed it. Well as much as you can goose a 20,000 pound displacement hull. We did speed up to fall in behind Brassy and got up over 7.5 knots for a bit. Then we had to wait in the channel. While we were waiting I checked the time on my cell phone and it turns out the clock on my computer was about 10 minutes fast. I probably burned over a gallon of extra diesel getting into the Pine River 10 minutes too early. Boy was I glad to have the bow thruster. While holding position behind Brassy waiting for the bridge the bow kept being blown to the right by the breeze. All I had to do was push the button to straighten it out.


Tuesday September 15, 2009         I got a great night’s sleep from 9 until almost 8 in the morning. With a nice shower and engine checks, we didn’t leave until the 10:00 AM bridge opening. We should have done nine!  The waves were barely there, really flat water until we got to Gray’s Reef and turned east for the bridge. We could see the bridge support columns from 20 nm away. Then the wind began to pick up. By the time we were going under the Big Mac the waves were 3-4 feet and the wind was picking up. Fortunately I called the Mackinaw City Marina because they were about to close. They promised to wait for us and thank God gave us a hand getting into the slip because the wind was even overcoming the bow thruster. This wind was NOT predicted. The prediction for Wednesday is for 6 foot waves and so we are going to stay in Mackinaw City marina until Thursday morning when it is predicted to be calm again. Maybe I can consider that my birthday present.


We tied the boat down really, really well and had hot dogs from the microwave along with a can of baked beans for dinner. Tomorrow we will probably eat out again. I got a possible clue to why the inverters for the screens keep kicking off. As we were approaching the bridge, the lower helm inverter kept going T.U. I replaced it with a spare plugged into the DC outlet at the lower helm. When I bumped the spare, it cycled off too. Maybe they can’t take the motion. At least I can now do some experimenting to see if that is a possible cause. When Steve and I were on the way to Mackinaw the inverters kept cycling off and we would have to reset them. We even ran on the spare for a while, but it never failed. I hope it is as simple as just finding inverters that don’t mind a little bump.


Wednesday September 16, 2009    When I wake up I will be a year older. Funny how time flies when you’re having fun. I did not sleep worth a darn last night. Maybe it was the wind and maybe it is just that I get one good night followed by one bad night. Let’s hope tonight is a good night. We need to get an early start tomorrow, none of that “Crack of Noon” stuff on the boat. I got my engine checks out of the way and we created a tentative schedule. All boat plans are written with pencil in the sand, but anyway here is what we think might happen.

Day             Travel                                     Approx Distance Approx Time @ 6 knots

Thursday    Mackinaw to Rogers City      54 nm.                             9 hours

Friday         Rogers City to Alpena           61 nm                            10 hours

Saturday     Alpena to Oscoda                   55 nm                            9 hours

Sunday       Oscoda to Port Austin           32 nm                              5 hours     (across Saginaw Bay)

Monday      Port Austin to Harbor Beach 35 nm                              6 hours

Tuesday      Harbor Beach to Lexington   47 nm                              8 hours

Wednesday Lexington to Saint Clair        43 nm.                             7 hours

Thursday    Saint Clair to Birmingham    bum a ride

Friday         drive to White Lake to pick up my car.


The sign in the Harbormaster’s office says waves will be 1 foot tomorrow. Of course it is written on a dry erase board which is quite similar to pencil in the sand. Perhaps that is just because they don’t have much distance to build up from the UP. They might get bigger further south. Marilyn’s wind website says winds will be out of the North at 9-15 knots which should give us a little push. Later they will change to westerly which should be OK since we will be on a lee shore. Later in the week they may get worse but long range predictions are subject to revision (pencil again). So, I will set the alarm for 6:00 AM and we will be out of here before 8:00. At 6 knots, it is nine hours to Roger’s City


Thursday September 17, 2009        “Older than dirt”. The first person I heard use that expression is now daisy pushing. I’ve got to do it while I can. Marilyn gave me a nice “Columbia” fleece vest for my birthday this morning. It is so nice and warm I took it off in the restaurant for dinner and darn near forgot it. Fortunately Marilyn mentioned it to me. Well, at least I zipped without being reminded.


As you may have noticed, I broke my pencil. We got an early start and caught a tailwind and made 6.5 knots most of the time so we blew past Roger’s City to Presque Isle – 61 miles. The marina is officially shut down, so there are no bathrooms and no fees but the power is on at the post and the restaurant is open. The folks from Oscoda called and they do not have accommodations for us so we are going to get an early start for Harrisville (49 miles) and from there to Port Austin, if the weather holds, saving a day. Marilyn had blue gills for dinner and for my birthday I went all out and had a grilled chicken Caesar salad - whoopee.


Friday September 18, 2009            I got up at 6:00 to turn off the darned alarm. Marilyn said she could hear the wind blowing thru the ventilators. About 9:30 the sailboat “Windchime” left. We talked to them at dinner and their final destination is East Tawas. We figured it was now or never because we needed about 8 hours to get to Harrisville so we headed on out. Before we got all the way out in the lake we had drawers coming open and stuff moving around so I executed the hardest maneuver on a boat, the 180 degree turn. We picked up a new dock for the night and wiled away the day reading books and the internet. Before dinner I ran the generator for 1 ½ hours to recharge the house batteries and to run a printer to print out wind predictions. Marilyn found a nice site -


Looks like if we leave early we can make Harrisville before the wind gets too bad and Port Austin on Sunday. But Monday looks like we will stay in Port Austin until Tuesday waiting for good weather.


Saturday September 19, 2009         Since there was no way to take a shower at Presque Isle (or do anything else for that matter) and the engine checks were all done the day before, we got off to an early, for us, start at 7:30. We held to about 1800 RPM and got over 6 knots most of the way. We pulled into Harrisville at the fuels dock and filled the starboard tank with 42 gallons. Then we got a pumpout and moved to a dock for the night. The dock hand had a neat trick of flicking the line and having it add a turn around the cleat. Not only that but he could also do the finish turn with a flick of his wrist, something I still have trouble doing bending over. Marilyn took a walk around the dock and we had the last of the hot dogs for dinner. Went to bed at 9:00 PM and I slept well. I wonder if it has something to do with whether my blower is running on AC or DC power. No Verizon internet service here but great showers.


Sunday September 20, 2009           We didn’t get going until about 8:45 (great showers) so Marilyn suggested we put some more coal in the boiler. I ran the engine to 2000 RPM and kept it there all day. We made about 6.6 knots to Port Austin and pulled in about 3:00 PM just an hour before they closed for the season. The harbormaster told us about the great plans they have for the harbor. He says the funding has been approved and all the engineering studies done. The harbor improvements are all paid for with boat fuel and registration fees (and a federal grant here and there), but no money from the state general fund. The improvements are coordinated with the village so it will take about three years until everything is done. Floating docks will be a big help. Verizon service here is great, all the bars. We are expecting 20 MPH winds from the south tomorrow and so we plan to stay right here in Port Austin (at no charge because they are closed) but the electricity and the restrooms are open until Thursday. Tuesday looks like the winds will drop and we can make Harbor Beach or Port Sanilac. If we go to Harbor Beach we will have to do Lexington then St Clair, but if we do Port Sanilac we can make St Clair in one day (weather permitting).


Somebody remind me to put my regular glasses on (not my sunglasses) when I write on the computer. By the way, I got some new Polaroid sunglasses with “Driveaway” lenses. They work great and they darken with the sun just like my transitions lenses on my regular glasses only these are darker and the polarized lenses are great for cutting glare on the water. I got them made in bifocal instead of the trifocal in my transitions lenses, in anticipation of using them only for out of doors. Now that I have them I find myself forgetting to change back. Maybe I should have gotten trifocals, but then I would still need to change glasses when it gets dark.


At the moment the wind has died to nothing, the skies are blue the ice maker is making ice and a few fishing boats are pulling in. Life is good.


We walked into downtown, which is a short walk, and had dinner at an Italian restaurant. With beer and wine and tip, two orders of lasagna came to about $40. Good lasagna, but not that good.


Monday September 21, 2009          Marilyn and I are taking a layover day because of high winds from the south. Here at Port Austin, south winds create no discernable waves because they are coming from directly offshore and do not have any distance to build up (fetch). But as soon as we would turn the corner to go to Harbor Beach they would be slamming into us. First, coming from off the side making us roll and then directly into the bow making us pitch and slow way down. NOT FUN. Here is a link to the wind predictions just a few miles from our SAFE harbor.


This is a static capture of today’s prediction. As you can see, winds are predicted to 20 MPH, dying down to 6 MPH by 11:00 AM tomorrow morning. Even the 9 or 10 MPH winds on Thursday are from the west so we will be protected from them by a lee shore and by late in the day Thursday we should be in the Saint Clair River. We should make it to our home port at Rivers Bend by Thursday night and we are hoping to get picked up Friday to go to our house in Birmingham MI. Marilyn and I have a guideline not to go out if Beaufort Force 3 or higher winds are predicted.


We ate lunch at a little Polish restaurant downtown across the street from the Italian restaurant. Marilyn had big homemade pierogis and I had biscuits and gravy, all for about $10 with tip. Not a bad deal.



Tuesday September 22, 2009         We were anticipating a short ride to Harbor Beach, about 31 nm, so we did not need to get an early start and we had been told that the city water would be on until Thursday. So I was quite disappointed on my stroll up the dock to be told the water had been turned off early. No shower and no flush toilets at the office. So we got going about 9:30 with very flat water. We ran about 6.2 knots and got into Harbor Beach around 3:30 PM. Right after check in we both took nice long hot showers and came back to the boat for cocktails and popcorn. The downtown is quite a hike, but the marina has a shuttle van and the dock girl offered to drive us into town if we needed to buy groceries or go to dinner. They also have loaner bikes, but those looked very tired. It is about 60 nm to Rivers Bend so we could do it in a long day. We will keep checking the weather forecast. Right now the forecast has changed a lot from the one I posted yesterday, and calls for fairly high winds but much of it is from the east which would let us run along a lee shore. I will check the depths on the chart plotter very carefully to see how closely we can hug the shore.


Unfortunately the predictions are even worse Thursday and Friday and then for Saturday Sunday and Monday “fugget about it” with lots of winds over 20 MPH. We really didn’t have any options in our planning because we had picked up so much seaweed at Port Sanilac on the way up, I really wanted to avoid stopping there. The Lexington State Dock listing says it is open from early May until late September. Marilyn reminded me that I had checked with them earlier and they are open until September 27. If we give it a try and we get too beat up we can pull in at Lexington, about 20 miles from Port Huron. The nice thing about Port Huron, if we can get there, is that we will be in the Saint Clair River, in sheltered waters and the boat and crew won’t get banged around (as much).



Wednesday September 23, 2009    Best news first, we are tied up in our old slip at Rivers Bend. It is good to be home. We jumped off to an early start at 7:30 and ran 2000 RPM (6.5 knots) all day. Our speed actually got over 10 knots as we passed under the Blue Water Bridge. We caught the 5:30 drawbridge opening at St. Clair and we were tied up enough for me to write this at 6:30 PM. Marilyn’s friend Lynn just called and she and her friend Jerry are on their way to pick us up and should be here shortly after 7:00. Dinner at Pepper Joe’s and sleep on dry land in Birmingham tonight. Saturday we plan to drive back to White Lake and pick up my car. Next week we unload the boat.


We had amazingly warm weather for late September and only a few days we couldn’t travel because of the weather (Mackinaw, Presque Isle and Port Austin). We could have been stuck in Harbor Beach for a few days except for Marilyn’s extensive collection of weather websites that convinced us we would be protected by a lee shore today. That worked out well. The places we were stuck were really nice places with things to do, even Presque Isle had a great restaurant and nice places for Marilyn to walk. Port Austin’s harbor is right down town with plenty of stores and restaurants. The local hardware is very well stocked.



Thursday September 24, 2009        We both slept in.